Tag: middle

Rachel’s Favorite Things

So today I am playing Oprah and am going to share some of my favorite things. Unfortunately I can’t give you free stuff so it might be less exciting but always fun to share.

Nantucket Bike Basket

First item I’m excited about is my new bike basket from LL Bean.  Isn’t it so cute and nice and deep to carry a bag of groceries or some mail 🙂

The Nantucket Bike Basket Co (talk about specialization) makes several baskets for LL Bean but this was my favorite.

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/69236?feat=69237-ppxs&dds=y

The description on the website says “This durable bike basket is made from very fine rattan cane, woven for a classic, retro look. A replica of the style originally made in Nantucket during the whaling era of the 1920’s. Leather straps attach to your bike’s handlebars.”

What can be wrong with that?
It was actually hard to find a good bike basket so I’m thrilled with this find.

It is $39 with free shipping.

 

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I rarely find a new book that I love.  It’s just hard to get through all the sludge to find something that is clean, engaging and that excites me. Certain genres are harder than others, romance and comedies being the most difficult. Recently I found a book by local author, Julianne Donaldson, called Edenbrooke, that totally won me over.

It is about a girl named Marianne who in the 18th century (Jane Austen era) is bored and lonely with the society at Bath and is sent to the estate of Edenbrooke where she faces some startling situations and a dramatic romance with the flirtatious Phillip.

I was expecting it to be fan fiction but I was engrossed.  It really had great momentum, fantastic romantic tension and wonderful character development. I think Donaldson did almost the impossible by writing a believable Austen-like story that is not over the top romantic but engages the reader.  It was certainly a bold undertaking and I think she totally pulled it off.

It actually had one thing Austen never has- romantic dialogue.  We get it in spades but not so much that it feels like a dime romance novel.  To me it was perfect.  (You know its a good book if you stop listening to the audiobook and start reading because you are dying to know what is going to happen).

Go find it! Read it!

                                                                                  GoPicnic.com

One of my biggest challenges is finding meals that are easy and healthy, especially when I’m exhausted. I need things to be fast, healthy and delicious.  Recently I discovered the gopicnic meals in a box.  They have 9 different boxed meals, 6 of which are gluten free.  Most are under 400 calories and loaded with protein.

I’m not going to say they are the most substantial meal but in a pinch they will do fine.  An example of one meal is:

Turkey Stick and Crunch Meal

  • Old Wisconsin Turkey Snack Stick
  • Popchips Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Niagara Natural Tropical Fruit Bites
  • Sweet Perry Orchards Baja Blend Fruit & Nut Mix
  • Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Cookie

Sounds pretty good hah? I love them as a replacement for fast food or after a work out.  They also worked great for a road trip.

On the gopicnic website you can sign up for a subscription and get them for as low as 3.30 a box.

 

The Middle

I’ve mentioned it briefly on this blog but I love the show The Middle. It has just finished up its 3rd season and I think it gets better and better each year.  The show tells the story of the Hoosiers middle America, Heck family, and their hilarious struggles with everyday living.

The family has a stressed out mom played by Patricia Heaton (much more likable here than in Everybody Loves Raymond).  The level-headed but not stupid Dad is played by Neil Flynn from Scrubs. They are a very realistic couple who  seem to enjoy one another.  It is not a continual complain session by the wife over the husbands dumb antics.

The real stars of the show, however, are the children in the Middle.  The oldest son Axel is played by Charlie McDermott and he is basically my brother as a teenager but maybe more athletic.  Most of the show he is in boxer shorts.  It is a great performance.

My favorite performance is by Eden Sher as middle daughter Sue.  The costume department gets the tween fashion look right and she is perfectly eager. Sue tries out for things and never makes them. (I can certainly relate to that!).  She is also eager to make friends and fit in but that eagerness makes her not fit in and make friends.  I love her!

The youngest Heck is played by Atticus Shaffer as oddball kid Brick.  It is another funny nerdy performance.

In the end the Heck’s feel like a real Hoosier family and they get all the Indiana details right from Colts shrines to trips to Brown County to Tasty Kake and Steak N Shake (regional specialties). As an honorary Hoosier I love the all the details.  Watching The Middle is like being back in Indiana with my friends. 🙂

Lands End Swimsuits

Yes, that’s me in a swimsuit and yes, I have no issues with that.  I’m a big girl and I look good in a swimsuit. Deal with it!

The reason I can say this is thanks to Lands End Swimwear.

They have a wide range of swimwear both casual and active and the thing I love the most about their suits is they have active wear for plus size.  All 3 of my suits are from Lands End.  I don’t know what I would have done without their unique suits.  It is so hard to find active wear for plus sizes and I appreciate their presence in the market.

This month I got my first non-plus size suit from them because I wanted a tankini for longer swims.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked better in a suit. Hurray!

I also like that Lands End has suits that are modest with a low leg line and without being super tight.  Thanks!

 

So there are some products I’m mad for at the moment.  Will keep you posted as I find more.

Fall TV Review

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog I love me some television and because I was sick last week I viewed even more TV than usual. Luckily it was premiere week and all my favorite shows started their seasons with a couple new shows thrown in the mix.  I thought it would be fun to review these shows and give you an idea of what is worth checking out this season.

Sunday-

Amazing Race 19- 19 seasons and still my favorite reality competition show.  Entertaining cast, great first challenge in Taiwan and I couldn’t believe the girls that lost their passport about an hour into the race!  A few new touches like the hazard penalty and a double elimination round next week keep the race exciting.  If I could be on any show it would be the Amazing Race.  A+

Extreme Makeover Home Edition- There is no show that lays on the inspirational cheese more than this one but I still enjoy it.  Its kind of like the TV equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa.  Sweet and comforting. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times it makes me cry in spite of my best efforts! This season started with a bang, bringing the First Lady in as a guest to help a home for female veterans.  How can you not like that? B+

Pan Am- New show trying to ride the 60’s wave of Mad Men.  Looks very promising with a slick, attractive cast.  You could really see the budget spent on the pilot.  Cinematography, sets, fashion were all top-notch.  Not as edgy as Mad Men but I actually think that’s a good thing.  I love Mad Men’s style but it has become too R rated for my taste with almost every character being a philanderer or cheat (plus a few of the plot strings have become ridiculous). A-

Monday-

Dancing with the Stars- new season has stretched the meaning of ‘star’ to the point where some of the pro dancers are more famous than the stars.  For instance, does dating George Clooney really make you a star?  That said, still immensely entertaining.  I especially enjoy watching it with my DVR so I can fast forward all the fluffy montages and rehearsal scenes.  I just like to watch the dancing! B

How I Met Your Mother- this show has been weak for the last 3 seasons, especially last season. The once funny Barney gags are tired and the entire cast (and writers) seem bored.  Hope they can revitalize it but I think this season it might be time to finally meet the mother and end the show.  C

The Sing Off- Despite it being the 3rd season had never seen the show but the draw of Sara Bareilles as a judge and a team from my alumni BYU called Vocal Point was too much to resist.  I enjoyed this acapella competition; although, I think all 3 judges are far too nice. They need a Simon Cowell to be a little tough on the teams! A

Two and a Half Men- Never seen the appeal of this show but I had to watch out of curiosity.  If anything I think Ashton Kutcher was better than Charlie Sheen.  Still, not that funny.  C

Two Broke Girls- Terrible, cliched comedy.  I thought every laugh was tired and predictable.  F

Tuesday-

Glee- I was into this show for about 6 months.  It had a strong pilot and you know I loved the music at the beginning.  Unfortunately the plot lines got ridiculous really fast and the kids stopped behaving like high school students and more like 30 year olds. Plus, I think they are dipping really deep to find new songs and to work those songs into a coherent plot (they didn’t have a song in this weeks episode until about 20 minutes into the show so they are becoming more sparse in their song offerings) .  Nothing new this season has excited me but it is nice to see Idina Menzel as a full time cast member.  Almost makes me tempted to watch. C-

New Girl- Only new show I watched on Tuesday (aside from results night of Dancing with the Stars).  This is a strange little show that I can’t say I recommend but I also think it has potential. Zoey Deschanel plays a girl who is dumped by her boyfriend and moves in as a roommate with a group of guys. The pilot had good moments but its tone was also all over the place.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a slapstick comedy or a drama.  Second episode also mixed.  Still, I see some potential (Btw the producers were so smart to get this show out on itunes for free download weeks ago.  I don’t know why more shows don’t do that.  It creates such buzz). C+

Wednesday-

Survivor: South Pacific- Another guilty pleasure of mine.  Repeating the gimmick from last season the producers have brought back 2 veterans; although, I don’t think either Coach or Ozzy will be able to put on the Survivor school that Boston Rob displayed last season.  They also have Russel Hantz’s nephew to see if villainy runs in the family.  Could do without the Redemption Island gimmick but no favorites so far.  A

The Middle- The funniest show on television that people don’t seem to be watching.  Glad ABC hasn’t given up on it.  Hilarious opening episode on the perils of camping with a family.  Watch this show!!  The kid actors are also the best in television. A+

Modern Family- I hate to say it but I think this show peaked in its first season.  Last season I felt was basically a repeat of the same gags from season 1.  The premiere for season 3 didn’t make me laugh.  I didn’t think the Lilly jokes were funny and the kids on the show are not very good.  Especially Manny is so wooden.  I feel like you can see him thinking of his lines before he says them. C

Up All Night- This is the show I am most excited to tell people about.  I don’t know when I’ve laughed harder at a pilot.  Hopefully the rest of the show will live up to it but the first 2 episodes were hilarious.  It is about a couple who give up their partying ways when they have a baby- a situation that could be ripe with cliches but it all works.  There is a scene where they are changing the baby’s diaper which made me laugh my head off.  The pilot is a free download on itunes right now so check it out!  I want this show to last!  A+

X Factor- American Idol all over again and I’m done with that show why would I tune into this? Nice to see Simon and Paula back together but really I agree with David Spade who said ‘all the good singers have been found’.  They really seem to be digging deep for this show.  D

Thursday-

Project Runway- The new season technically started a month or so ago but I thought I’d mention it.  This season may be the jumping the shark moment for the show.  Last week’s episode where they had to make outfits for a band was terrible.  It looked like a tacky 70’s party.  Maybe all the good designers have been found. I don’t think they’ve  had a really strong season since Christian Seriano won. D

Big Bang Theory-   Another show that peaked in its first season.  The last season was low on laughs and too focused on sexual humor.  I think they need to get back to the ensemble gags that used to work so well.  Its become too Sheldon based. C+

I didn’t watch any premieres Friday or Saturday so that’s it.  I know its a ridiculous amount of television for one human being to watch but I was sick!  If I could only recommend 3 shows it would be Up All Night, the Middle and the Amazing Race.